Going To The French Pastry School For Decorating Worth It?

Decorating By harleyboo Updated 31 May 2016 , 6:51pm by hippiecac

harleyboo Posted 28 May 2016 , 2:42am
post #1 of 10

Hi im wondering if going to The French Pastry school in Chicago worth it. I am in my late 20's and ive always had a interest for cake decorating but never really practiced baking or decorating.I  know work at marianos in the bakery but not as a cake decorator.I really want to learn but my boss wont allow me to because as a team lead I am not able to spend to much time on one side I constantly have to be all over the place keeping the tables full and managing the other employees. 

So do you think going to the french pastry school will finally give me the experience i need? I dont bake at all, everything we do at work comes in frozen so i really cant say i know how to bake from scratch. But my passion is in decorating more then anything. and the thing about FPS is that its $17,000 for a 4 month certificate, and i see that steep for only 4 months.

Or can you guys offer me other options that i can do to push myself to start learning more, i practice my decorating from this site and some youtube sites but i dont feel like im really getting it. Or other jobs that you think will allow me to practice while on the job? 

What skills do you guys think will make me a better decorator? more art classes maybe?

Any help will be greatly appreciated :) 

9 replies
maybenot Posted 28 May 2016 , 11:50pm
post #2 of 10

If an employer was going to foot that $17,000 bill, I'd say go for it.  On your own dime, well, you can get as much, or more, for less money by piecing things together in your areas of interest.  I've attended the FPS for several week long classes--ran about $1000 for each one, but I was choosing what I liked, wanted, and felt would do the most for me.  I loved the classes, but with many of those guest instructors, the same class may be offered elsewhere [and maybe for a lower price, too].

Why not start at the beginning--if you haven't already--by doing some Wilton classes locally?  Or, if you can manage the time, go to Chicago for the Wilton Master Class or a few of their specialty classes strung together.  Purchase a bunch of Craftsy classes, join ICES and got to the convention in Alabama in July going to as many demonstrations as possible and a few hands on classes, find out when your local ICES Day of Sharing will be held and attend.

rychevamp Posted 30 May 2016 , 3:50pm
post #3 of 10

If you don't really have an interest I learning the basics of baking, seems like a waste of money. Practice (A LOT! it takes awhile), Craftsy and local decorating classes sound like your best bet. When I was in culinary school, I had one cake decorating class, and a little here and there in others. Unless  it's specified you'll have a lot of cake decorating instruction, it might not be the way to go. 

810whitechoc Posted 31 May 2016 , 3:43am
post #4 of 10

$17000.00 is a bucket load of money, and I can tell you from my own decorating journey it takes time and practice practice practice to get anywhere.  My teacher in my very first  decorating class said to the class, you will need to make at least 20 fondant covered cakes before you even begin to understand how to do it.  I did very well in the class, but when I made my first cake at home on my own I was all fingers and thumbs, and then I really started on the journey of learning how to be a cake decorator.

Buying a couple of Craftsy classes and practice, practice practice is a lot cheaper than $17000.00 and honestly it took me about a year to get to the point of being confident in my skills.

From an employers point of view, if you do this class is there a job for you there?  If you are hired for one position just because you want to move on doesn't necessarily mean your employer is going to  give you a job.  Also from an employers point of view a four month course means I am going to have to carry you while you develop your speed and confidence.

I keep coming back to that is an awful lot of money if you don't have a definite game plan mapped out.

Apti Posted 31 May 2016 , 6:01am
post #5 of 10
team lead I am not able to spend to much time on one side I constantly have to be all over the place keeping the tables full and managing the other employees. 
Read more at http://www.cakecentral.com/forum/t/831299/going-to-the-french-pastry-school-for-decorating-worth-it#urO5TGsxtYgM5Eg4.99

Not just no, but H*LL NO to the $17,000 French Pastry School.   (BTW, "pastry" does NOT mean "cake decorating".  It means pastry which is VERY, VERY different from cake decorating.

Your boss has already told you that your value as an employee does NOT lie with whether or not you can bake or decorate.  Your value as an employee is because you are a team lead with the responsibilities that entails.    If you want to earn more money with your present employer, ask your boss what you can do to further yourself in your company.

If cake decorating/baking is a personal interest, treat it like a personal interest/hobby--NOT a career advancement path in your current position.  Take Wilton classes at a local craft store.  OR take classes at a local specialty cake shop.  OR do both.  Sign up for My Cake School . c o m for $30 for a year membership.  THEN, do 20 fondant cakes and give them away, then do 20 buttercream cakes and give them away.  Then try your hand at carved cakes and give them away.   

Spend about 8 hours reading pricing threads here on CakeCentral.  Very FEW cake decorators are able to make a profitable living doing cake decorating full time.  Those who are able to be profitable are better at BUSINESS skills than cake decorating. 

Apti Posted 31 May 2016 , 6:02am
post #6 of 10

the forum is still being difficult.  I was unable to copy and paste, so ignore the first part of the message above.

Apti Posted 31 May 2016 , 6:14am
post #7 of 10

I am swearing &%$#@ bad words because this stupid forum just deleted my long post.  OK, here's another try.


NO--do NOT pay $17K for a pastry school course.  First of all, that's nuts.  Second, "pastry" is NOT "cake decorating" or "baking"  it is pastry which is very, very different.  Third, it will NOT get you a promotion since your boss has already said your employee value is in being a team lead, not whether or not you can decorate cakes. 

If you want advancement at your job, ask your supervisor "What may I do to increase my value to this company and earn a better position with more pay and responsibility?"

If you want to do cake decorating, treat it as a hobby while you learn.  Take one or all 3 of the following steps:  Wilton courses at a local craft store.  Cake courses at a local cake specialty store that offers classes.  Sign up and pay $30 to My Cake School . com

Make 20 buttercream cakes, make 20 fondant cakes, make 10 carved cakes and give them away  to neighbors, fellow work staff, staff at local convalescent homes, teachers' lounges, police stations, fire stations.  Keep notes and take photos of each cake.    Keep track of your expenses. 

Spend 8 hours reading pricing threads and business threads here on CakeCentral.  You will learn that VERY few people actually make a living doing baking/cake decorating.  Those who are able to do so profitably for a living are generally better at the business aspect than the creative decorating aspect.

harleyboo Posted 31 May 2016 , 5:03pm
post #8 of 10


Quote by @Apti on 10 hours ago

I am swearing &%$#@ bad words because this stupid forum just deleted my long post.  OK, here's another try.


NO--do NOT pay $17K for a pastry school course.  First of all, that's nuts.  Second, "pastry" is NOT "cake decorating" or "baking"  it is pastry which is very, very different.  Third, it will NOT get you a promotion since your boss has already said your employee value is in being a team lead, not whether or not you can decorate cakes. 

If you want advancement at your job, ask your supervisor "What may I do to increase my value to this company and earn a better position with more pay and responsibility?"

If you want to do cake decorating, treat it as a hobby while you learn.  Take one or all 3 of the following steps:  Wilton courses at a local craft store.  Cake courses at a local cake specialty store that offers classes.  Sign up and pay $30 to My Cake School . com

Make 20 buttercream cakes, make 20 fondant cakes, make 10 carved cakes and give them away  to neighbors, fellow work staff, staff at local convalescent homes, teachers' lounges, police stations, fire stations.  Keep notes and take photos of each cake.    Keep track of your expenses. 

Spend 8 hours reading pricing threads and business threads here on CakeCentral.  You will learn that VERY few people actually make a living doing baking/cake decorating.  Those who are able to do so profitably for a living are generally better at the business aspect than the creative decorating aspect.

Yea i think ill just stick to learning on my own. I was thinking it was too expensive for 4 month classes. the school is specialized to teach just decorating and then there are others for pastry and bread, but like many of you said it is too much money and if i dont have a set game plan i cant justify paying that much for something im still trying to figure out. Thanks so much to everyone who responded and special thanks to Apti who responded to my question despite it deleting her post 3 times! :) 

Apti Posted 31 May 2016 , 6:30pm
post #9 of 10

You're welcome.

Your best bet is probably to spend $30 and sign up for My Cake School . com

This will provide lots of basics to intermediate instruction and will also provide quite a few recipes which can get you started.   Depending on "how" you learn, this may be sufficient.  Personally, I find that I learn much better with a hands-on class until I have the basics, then I can do well watching videos because I have the basics under my belt. 

I had a heck of a time in the beginning learning super simple things like how to hold the piping bag.  That is where a hands-on works great, but some people are able to learn from videos just fine without the hands-on step.

hippiecac Posted 31 May 2016 , 6:51pm
post #10 of 10

I did all the Wilton classes at my local Michael's store a year before I went to pastry school. In my case, I wanted the whole package (baking/decorating/business management/etc.) but for you that is likely unnecessary at this time.


And actually, Wilton headquarters is in Woodridge, IL which might be close enough for you to take the classes right at their facility. 

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